A Revolutionary CyberWar

If you’ve turned on the news any time in the last few weeks you’ve heard of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Julian Assange is the site owner of Wikileaks, and has published more than 250,000 classified US Documents. They have ranged from benign to downright embarrassing.

Watching our leaders scramble to understand the internet at this point is little like watching Keystone Cops. Lieberman and some dopey anchor can’t understand why Assange wasn’t charged with treason in the US.

Could it possibly be because Assange isn’t American, therefore his acts cannot be considered treasonous?

Sweden has issued a warrant for Assange’s arrest for sexual assault. Since I can’t read the original documents I’ll have to rely on the *gasp wait* Today show anchor who says that it’s really about the women wanting him tested for STD’s. I have a hard time trusting the Today Show with my news, and an even more difficult time believing that INTERPOL would go to these lengths to make sure that Assange doesn’t have a sexually transmitted disease. I’m sure we’ll have details of the Assange arrest and extradition, I’m equally sure that his life will be destroyed before we get that data.

To those who value secrecy (which should not be confused with the reasonableness of privacy) Assange is evil incarnate.

For the citizens of the world who believe that their governments should practice transparency, and serve their citizens, Assange is a demigod, and Wikileaks is their chapel.

Assange’s Swiss Bank Post Finance came under attack first by members of Anonymous and 4chan when they closed Assange’s accounts. There have been massive denial of service attacks on Paypal and Mastercard.com as well. Neither Paypal nor Mastercard will allow for donations to WikiLeaks. Operation Payback is claiming victory.

I expect we will see Visa.com shut down at some point today, and Amazon was already crippled by attacks.

If this isn’t a war I don’t know what is. Governments and corporations around the world have made a concerted effort to hide information from citizens, and then to financially destroy any place where information is shared. Hackers have organized and, in turn, shut down the financial institutions that the Governments used as weapons.

You can follow Operation Payback on Twitter at @Anon_Operation and their Wikipedia page will fill in some of the gaps for you.

PandaLabs.com has a page about Operation Avenge Assange, but of course their host is down too. You can see a cached version here.

When I think of our Country’s humble beginnings, with a bunch of pissed off settlers dumping tea into Boston Harbor, and I try to find a modern day correlation this is it.

Since most of us slept through Net Neutrality hearings in 2006 and most recently this summer, I’m going to have to ask you to get involved. It’s critical that the Net stays open and neutral. Google has a good starting point, and Wikipedia will probably continue to be a great source.

Is Assange a hero or a heretic? I don’t know.

I do know that we have an open web, and I’ll fight like hell to keep it that way.

What about you? Are you looking at the web differently today? Do you have cash on hand?

Operation Anonymous on twitter

Operation Avenge Assange

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Comments 27

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Revolutionary CyberWar — Jessica Gottlieb -- Topsy.com

  2. Great post on this Jessica!

    I am afraid that Comcast recently fired a blow that proves that Net neutrality is under attack as well. (http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20101208-709765.html in case you’re trying to catch up.)

    I often wonder how it is that people can praise “our founding fathers” without realizing that the British government had labeled them as both traitors (treasonists) and terrorists. Sometimes, it seems as though we have forgotten that we have a nation based on the idea that taxation without representation is a bad thing – and yet…

    But to stick closer to the point? Yes, it is amusing (in a sad sort of way) to watch a generation that has always believed they could get by in the 21st century without bothering to learn about the Internet trying to come to terms with the reality that they can’t avoid learning about it any more.

  3. The most striking thing to me about the whole affair is how quickly the mirrors sprung up. Clearly it’s something they planned for, but even so… from Lieberman putting pressure on amazon to stop hosting the site to almost 1000 mirrors in just a few days. Amazing. Assange is kindof a dick, but that’s not the point. As far as I’m concerned it’s about accountability in governments.

    Interestingly, the first criminal act appears to have been committed not by Wikileaks, but by groups protesting the way they’ve been treated, like Anon_Operation.

  4. I’m very concerned by this. I don’t like Assange or his actions. I think that they are reckless and dangerous. That doesn’t mean that I think Gov’t should be given Carte Blanche either.

    Every gov’t should be questioned and challenged. But that doesn’t mean nor require that all of their actions should be “open.” You don’t play Poker by showing all of the other players your hand. That is not how life works. It never has and it never will.

    Iran stones women to death. Saudi Arabia cuts off the hands of thieves. North Korea runs an exceptionally frightening regime. The list goes on. The point is that while it would be nice to sing Kumbaya and hold hands we can’t.

    This is not fear mongering, it is reality. At some point in time we have to trust that the Gov’t will take care of us and do what is right to protect us. Again that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any oversight/accountability but 100% transparency isn’t realistic either.

    It is not that different from suggesting that you should be able to tell your surgeon how to operate upon you. You are given a certain amount of influence, but at the end of the day you “trust” him/her to get it right.

    1. I find it terribly disturbing that you don’t see the inherent contradiction between stating “That is not how life works. It never has and it never will. ” and then listing a number of countries who are refusing to change their behavior to something a tad less barbaric based on the exact same refrain.

      Welcome to the 21st century. Where life and how it works will be changing constantly thanks to technology that means the decisions are no longer in the hands of the few, but of the many. Welcome to the *real* democracy – the one where everyone has a vote, not a few people who pretend that they are representing “the will of the people.”

      You might want to examine your ‘life as a game of poker’ metaphor – because it’s not going to be that anymore. No more bluffing. No more raising the stakes until you force the other guy out even if he has a better hand. No more limited seats at the table reserved for a chosen few. Some of us are sick of some of you thinking that you can gamble with our lives, livelihoods, and future. We’re not going to play poker anymore. We’re going to make you quit “playing” and start taking it very seriously.

      I trust my surgeon because I’ve done my homework and get to choose him. I don’t trust him because I did my homework and selected him and someone else said – “noooo, we don’t like that guy – now you have to get operated on by Bob over here. He may not be the most qualified, but he was certainly the most popular!” That’s how we currently choose our government. Fortunately, the world is changing. Those who wish to use the technology to further their own agendas now must learn to understand it. This includes politicians, diplomats, bankers, business people and even parents.

      Scroll back up again and watch Mr. Lieberman who should know better discuss why someone who isn’t an American citizen should be accused of treason. Then later, you can let him operate on your kidneys – after all, he’s popular!

      1. Lucretia,

        I appreciate what you are saying and I think that I understand why- but it doesn’t change how things work. The countries that I listed engage in barbaric practices that I do not support, but what should we do about it. We can complain and protest but those things do not matter to them. They don’t care about our opinion.

        Some of them operate based upon ideologies that are diametrically opposed to ours. Some of them believe that G-d has granted them the right to act this way. We can disagree with them, but that doesn’t remove the root of the problem.

        Welcome to the *real* democracy – the one where everyone has a vote, not a few people who pretend that they are representing “the will of the people.”

        It is nice sentiment but it is not reality and it is not going to be. The will of the people in a civilized society is always going to be based upon the actions of those who represent them. We cannot be experts in everything although we might wish that we could.

        We’re going to make you quit “playing” and start taking it very seriously. No you are not. I’m not your enemy, but I am a realist. And you aren’t going to affect change like this. It is illogical, irrational and not based upon how life works.

        That’s how we currently choose our government.

        Would you like to amend the Constitution and if so, what sort of amendments do you propose? What changes would you like to see?

        Let’s not bring Lieberman into this. I didn’t say that I support his comments or that I think that Assange should be extradited so that he could be prosecuted for treason either. Besides, your analogy here doesn’t work.

        Assange is not a hero to me. He is reckless. He is dangerous. I agree with you that the world is changing but some things have not and will not. History proves that some actions repeat themselves over and over. It is not nice and it is not pleasant but it is reality.

        Let’s take a look at the blogosphere for a moment. What would happen if every mom blogger knew exactly what was being said about her? There would be so much drama on top of the drama that already exists. It wouldn’t make everyone want to be friends nor would it make the nasty comments disappear.

        The real world isn’t all that different. I wish that it was. I am a father who wants his children to grow up in a better, safer world-but Wikileaks doesn’t do that. It only provides an illusion.

        1. No, you apparently did not understand at *all* what I was saying.

          “It is nice sentiment but it is not reality and it is not going to be. The will of the people in a civilized society is always going to be based upon the actions of those who represent them. We cannot be experts in everything although we might wish that we could.”
          Only shows you know nothing of the history of Iceland. Also shows that you don’t spend a lot of time studying governmental systems. No one need be an expert in everything – but when the experts tell you that you don’t understand something? Perhaps it’s time to consider that you don’t.

          “Would you like to amend the Constitution and if so, what sort of amendments do you propose? What changes would you like to see?”

          I don’t need to amend the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. is not the only participant in the digital world. It is sadly narrow of you to think so nationalistically. Nor am I about to get dragged off down an irrelevant tangent. You stated in your first comment “At some point in time we have to trust that the Gov’t will take care of us and do what is right to protect us. ” I was replying to that silly ideal. It is the child who “trusts” that the government will take care of him and do what is right to protect him. It is the man who believes that power corrupts and that it is in his own enlightened interest to make sure that his government is actually representing his and his own children’s best interests.

          “Let’s not bring Lieberman into this. I didn’t say that I support his comments or that I think that Assange should be extradited so that he could be prosecuted for treason either. Besides, your analogy here doesn’t work.”

          I didn’t bring Lieberman into it. Jessica did. You don’t get to pick and choose parts of the post to ignore. He was cited here as a representative of the clueless arrogance with which the U.S. Government so boldly assumes they need not be informed before going on camera and making statements about a global situation.
          As for the analogy? It was yours. I simply extended it to show how easily it can be bent to either position. Poker is a ridiculous analogy for politics and social policy. It’s also a horrid excuse for hiding information.

          “Let’s take a look at the blogosphere for a moment. What would happen if every mom blogger knew exactly what was being said about her? There would be so much drama on top of the drama that already exists. It wouldn’t make everyone want to be friends nor would it make the nasty comments disappear.”

          Let’s not. Because it’s not a real entity. But the U.S. Government is. There is no “mom blogosphere” nor even any “blogosphere” – that is a word that attempts to put artificial boundaries where none really exists. There is no governing body of the “blogosphere”, nor membership, benefits, debts or any other form of affiliation. Point to the Government of the “blogosphere”. You can’t.
          Which makes my point rather handily. On the Internet? You don’t get to impose your form of government on anyone else.

          Now, since you’re clearly very interested in this subject, I will tell you that you are not particularly versed in how the Internet really works.
          The people who go here http://www.defcon.org/ every year? Would be happy to enlighten you as to just how illusory YOUR sense of safety and privacy really is. That representatives of the US Government and various branches of it’s Intelligence community show up every year to learn just how insecure their systems really are? Should tell you something.

          If you managed to post every negative thing about me that everyone had ever said on the Internet – whether or not they intended it for prying eyes – it would very much not impact my day-to-day life. Because those who know me and know what I am and not capable of? Will only consider it so much noise. They would admit that yes, at times I can be a bitch. I have a short temper and an often overinflated ego. I tend to argue with strangers on the Internet even when I know that it is pointless as they have no intention of admitting they might be wrong. They’d also shrug and move on. Because it turns out that when your actions are stronger than someone else’s words? That’s what really matters to those you wish it to matter to.

          If anything anyone said in a diplomatic cable influences the way they are seen, it is because s/he is lying to those who are shocked.

          The “real world” as you put it is nothing like your ideal world – where governments are all trustworthy & well-intentioned and the Internet is a safe place. Fortunately for your children, they will grow up digital natives and the fact that their parents are digital immigrants won’t stop it. They will be able to navigate with ease that which scares you so much right now – the Internet that doesn’t belong to one Government but to all of the people.

          And with that? I’m done trying to do the impossible. You may now reply in peace knowing that I’m off to a corner of the Internet that actually gets what Jessica posted.

          1. Ok Lucretia, you just used 904 words and here is what stuck out:

            No, you apparently did not understand at *all* what I was saying.

            but when the experts tell you that you don’t understand something? Perhaps it’s time to consider that you don’t.

            It is sadly narrow of you to think so nationalistically.

            I was replying to that silly ideal.

            Now, since you’re clearly very interested in this subject, I will tell you that you are not particularly versed in how the Internet really works.

            They would admit that yes, at times I can be a bitch. I have a short temper and an often overinflated ego. I tend to argue with strangers on the Internet even when I know that it is pointless as they have no intention of admitting they might be wrong.

            I’ll stop with that last remark because there is enough material there to demonstrate that you don’t really want to have a dialogue. You don’t know who I am, what my background is or what my qualifications are.

            I tried to engage in a simple conversation with you but you got angry because I didn’t follow or agree with what you said. Perhaps the fault lies in y0ur not being able to communicate your point well. Perhaps the issue lies with your over inflated ego and short temper didn’t let you see that no one attacked you.

            I have a thick skin so if it would make you feel better you can come out and call me stupid, slow or whatever insult helps to make you comfortable. Or maybe I should just imitate you and tell you that I am better educated, more worldly etc.

            I won’t go that route because I prefer to have pissing contests with men. It is far more enjoyable to see who has a bigger dick. ;)

            Seriously, I wasn’t ever attacking you. I like hearing different POVs and thought that we might be able to have a discussion. I am not frightened of the Internet and understand that it doesn’t belong to one nation.

            But I figured that if we had a discussion about government it might make sense to use an example that most readers could understand. I don’t have access to Jessica’s stats, but I am guessing that most readers are American.

            FWIW, you are still wrong about most of this. ;)

  5. That you took the time to figure out how many words I typed – even if you automated it – tells me more than enough about you to decide that it’s just better to say “yes, you’re right, you win the Internets!!!”
    As for dick size? Yes, you definitely are the bigger dick.
    Not sure that’s as enviable as you think it is, “Jack”.

    But nonetheless you win! Woot!!

    1. No idea who i agree with of the two of you, but I do know it’s really bad form to leave a comment that’s longer than the original blog post. Sort of like going to a dinner party and shitting out more than you ate.

      Anyhow, in other more related news, moments after their twitter account was taken down, this one popped up: http://twitter.com//Anon_Operationn

      Note the clever spelling. We could be here for some time, huh?

      1. Obviously I fucked that up, and it was supposed to be an unthreaded comment, not one directed at you Amy. Sorry about that. It’s 4chan’s fault.

        Nice dog, btw.

      2. I had not thought of it that way – but it makes sense. Jessica’s post clearly sparked something in both of us that lead us to a longer discourse than is probably polite. She does have a tendency to find subjects that inspire passion in her readers!

        Sad that Twitter is trying to intervene… makes you wonder just what info they are sharing with the US Government, doesn’t it?

    2. The biggest challenge with communicating via text is the lack of verbal and visual clues. We don’t always recognize smiles or sarcasm. It is easy to have a misunderstanding with others, especially when you don’t know them well.

      1. Very correct. And while we must agree to disagree on the topic – I apologize for clearly crossing over a line from ‘online argument’ to ‘online assault’.
        Lack of emotional context tends to make us read things in the worst light and write things not realizing how much they might be taken in a different vein.

        No excuses, just apologies for the parts where I didn’t attack the argument, but the person. I’m sorry.

        1. It is not a big deal. I have been online since the early 90s or so and have had more than one disagreement that evolved from a simple misunderstanding. It is even easier when the topic is one that we are passionate about.

          But I like to be challenged. I like to have someone show me a different side. I don’t often change my mind, but sometimes something comes about that does make me reconsider.

          1. A thick skin is a must in online communities… At least we’re not on Usenet where the trolls outnumbered the average folk. ;)

            I have also been involved in my fair share of misunderstandings due to lack of other context.

            I endorse your last paragraph completely. Looking forward to the occasional ‘things to consider’ exchanges. I’ll attempt to self-edit before hitting reply in the future.

    3. Thanks for that perspective. It didn’t have to become anything. There is no point really to arguing with anyone on the Internet. Sometimes, passion for a subject overrules my common sense. As it clearly did in this case. “Scroll on” is a good motto which I think I’ll work at practicing more.

  6. I think WikiLeaks is a good thing. Now do I think that all of our secrets should be out there for the world and terrorists to see? Hell no. But for things like what the banking industry really did to cause our current global Depression, yes, that information needs to be made public.

    The arrest and trumped up charges against Assange are just to try and shut him down. Anyone with half a brain can see that. I hope he emerges victorious, but that is not likely to happen.

    1. The arrest and trumped up charges against Assange

      This is part of what bothers me about this. The topic is so emotionally charged that people assume that Assange couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong. This would be the perfect time for him to rape, steal and murder because he will receive a greater benefit of doubt than in other circumstances.

      I don’t know if he is guilty of assaulting those women. I readily admit that I dislike him and Wikileaks, but I don’t want him convicted of crimes that he didn’t commit either.

  7. At what point does one put a limit on Freedom of Speech? Should there be one? Or should anyone be allowed to say anything? I mean, we’re not allowed to yell “FIRE” in a crowded movie theater just because we feel like it, right? It probably wouldn’t be advisable to start yelling that you have a bomb while in the airport even if you’re just joking.

    Some of those documents that were being released haven’t been declassified. That means that people’s names haven’t been redacted and it might actually put some into danger. Classified documents are still classified, whether or not Anon has released them onto the web. Sure, let’s say we have operatives or assistance in foreign countries.. do you realize that we’re putting them and their families in danger? Yes, I do think that governments should be allowed a bit of secrecy, the hard question is where to draw the line.

    1. There are a number of limitations on Freedom of Speech such as the one you mentioned or Gitlow V. New York. You cannot call for the violent overthrow of the government.

      I think that we have to have some limitations on speech because of matters like National Security. It is a slippery slope because you don’t want to give away too many civil liberties. Power can be abused.

      Yet at the same time we are forced to place some trust in the systems that are in place. We have to believe that they are going to work on our behalf, even if they don’t always do so in the best or most effective manner.

      Again, not arguing against oversight of gov’t or providing them with Carte Blanche to do what we want, but you can’t manage everything.

  8. It sometimes takes me a while to “get” gov’t happenings…And I haven’t really been following this. I just know that there are many warnings around post about trying to access the wikileaks site. And that two cadets tried to access it and could be facing discharge.

    So…whatever is happening, regardless of right or wrong…people are getting in serious trouble and it could potentially ruin careers & strip people of their security clearance. Scary stuff.

  9. Nice to see you still on jury duty here, Jess… I think most intelligent peeps are. That what’s coming down the pike is obvious to some of us is undeniable… this is web for flies…Info gatherers on either side are unsure whether they are flies or spiders and that’s scary for everyone.

    Assange rape charges are trumped BS (bad sex or bullshit- thank FSM we don’t have to know first hand either way) but it doesn’t matter a flip whether he’s hero/ heretic; winners of all Crusades are heroic in their renderings of history.

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